HDR Sunset with 5D Mark II

I just tried out using 5D Mark II for an HDR shot. I took 3 shots at different exposure at The Peak and used Photomatix Pro to process them into an HDR image. I then process the image further in Photoshop CS4. I did not have my tripod with me so I took the shots hand-held with my elbows resting against a fence.

I don’t like doing a lot of HDR photos as HDR photos can never really look “natural”. However, HDR photos do have that surreal look that can be nice and attractive once in awhile, but can start looking strange and unpleasent if you see too many in a row. Anyway, I hope you will like this one. You can click on the image for a larger view.


16 thoughts on “HDR Sunset with 5D Mark II

  1. Very nice picture. Just like a painter want it to be. I wonder, what was the exposure difference between those three shot that you took? Secondly, what other adjustment you did further in photoshop? And lastly, in CS4, it has automate HDR, is it good? Thank you.

    • Hi wayan,

      Thanks! The exposure difference for the shot was -2EV, 0EV, +2EV. The other adjustments I did in Photoshop were Levels, Curves, Vibrance, Shadows & Highlights, resize and sharpening. I have not tried the HDR in CS4, so I can’t comment on how well it works.

  2. Hi Roland,

    Like your pic. I have one little suggestion.
    I think it even would look better when you straighten it. Look at the buildings on the right. I my humble opinion they are not vertical and that is distracting me.

    But once again, I like the surrealistic look and the saturated colours. Would like to play with it in PS. Think I’m going to try HDR myself. Never did before.

    Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • Hi revive,

      HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Normally, an image sensor of a digital camera only has a limited dynamic range. For scenes with a high dynamic range, like the shot above, with a very bright Sun and sky and a relatively dark foreground, the image sensor can only either capture the highlight area details or the shadow area details and not both at the same time.

      HDR is a technique, whereby, one can take a few shots (in general at least 3) of the same scene at different exposure, say one exposed for the shadows, 2nd one exposed for the midtones and 3rd one exposed for highlight. Then one can use a computer program like Photomatix Pro or Photoshop CS4 to combine the 3 images into a HDR photo.

  3. Hi Roland,

    Thank you for your reply. Soon after saw your HDR, I tried it while I was in Hong Kong (I live in Jakarta), took some picture outside a mall (one stop station just before reach HK airport -forgot the name). I did HDR in photoshop at around 11 am, with -1, 0 +1 exposure.

    It turned out the blue sky not become blue as I wanted in the -1 exposre, but change into like cyan colour. Then I prefer to do it manually working with all three layers. I don’t know whether I missed some useful functions in my PS.

    Thanks again, perhaps you had that experience before?

    • Hi wayan,

      Actually, for HDR photo, the general advice is that you will need to go at least + and – 2 stops. + and -1 stops is usually not enough.

      Doing HDR in Photoshop is also quite difficult and not easy to achieve a natural looking image, color is being part of the problem (it’s possible, just not easy). Most people would prefer to use other dedicated HDR program like Photomatix.

  4. Roland,

    Thank you very much for the advise. I tried that +/- 1 before I read your reply on my first enquiry. Now I understand better, and will get photomatix. Catch you again, and thanks.

  5. Hi Roland, fantastic HDR, yes they can look over cooked but this is stunning. Thanks for your knowledge on purchasing camera gear in HK. Im there for 2 weeks in sept/oct for my honeymoon. I currently shoot with a canon 50D and will be looking to get at least 1 if not 2 lenses while im in HK. If you can give me your 1st preference as to which shop you would go purely for lenses well Im sure to go there. Check out my wordpress blog when you have a moment

    Cheers Adrian


  6. Hi Roland

    That picture looks great and the HDR technique I am looking forward to trying out.
    I am thinking of getting a 5d, I shot a music vid and it looks great.
    Are you familiar with the Lummix Gh2?
    I am wondering which one to get.


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